Hammer time! We’re on the A92 autobahn that runs from Munich to Deggendorf, a small town that’s of no particular importance except for the fact it’s at the end of one of the quieter and less speed limited superhighways in southern Germany. We’re here to see whether the Genesis can run with all those fancy Bimmers and Audis that are built within a few miles of this road.
The Genesis might have been designed and engineered in Korea, but the 4.6-liter Tau V-8 feels eerily German in its power delivery. It’s smooth and linear till about 3000 rpm, then you get a noticeable surge as the engine gets a second wind; old Benz V-8s used to feel just like this. At 3000 rpm in top, the Genesis is cruising at 110 mph, and could do it all day long. Wind and road noise are impressively hushed, and the car feels surprisingly relaxed.
It doesn’t take too much of a gap in the traffic for the Genesis to surge to 130, then 140 mph. We saw an indicated 150 mph a couple of times.
At these speeds, however, the Genesis’ demeanor gets a nervy edge. It feels like it’s balanced on the balls of its feet, moving around on the road in a way German cars never do. You need to be extra delicate with your steering inputs above 120 mph, and careful with your braking, especially if you’re ambushed by a slow moving car midway through a fast sweeper. And speaking of brakes, the standard Hyundai stoppers are marginal when you start hustling the Genesis hard. A set of Brembos would be nice, please.
V-maxing the Genesis on the A92, you can feel the Korean development engineers didn’t have a road like this in their backyard, unlike their counterparts at Audi and BMW. Engineers from both companies test prototype cars on the A92 all the time, especially at night, when the lack of traffic means they can maintain high speeds for an extended period. They test during the day, too — we saw two camo’d next-gen BMW 5 Series sedans inside of 30 minutes this morning.
Of course no one in the U.S. — or the rest of the world, for that matter — is ever going to drive a Genesis at these speeds. But many of the defining characteristics of German luxury cars — excellent stability, good steering, resilient brakes, smooth engines — come from their being developed in a country where it is possible to legally drive 150 mph or more. The Genesis is an impressive debut luxury car from Hyundai, but to truly take the fight to BMW and Audi with the next generation model, Hyundai engineers are going to have to start spending a lot more time on roads like the A92.
Just before Deggendorf we turn right and head southeast on the A3 autobahn towards the Austrian border, en route for Vienna, one of the major stops on the Orient Express route. With heavy traffic the pace is much more relaxed, and when we cross into Austria a blanket 80 mph limit — and heavy policing — make dialing up the cruise control a smart choice.
What a difference the change of pace makes. During our full throttle charge up the A92 the 4.6-liter Tau guzzled a gallon of Super Bleifrei every 13 miles. Holding a steady 80 mph on cruise control — with occasional stints at 60 mph for up to 10 miles through roadworks — the Genesis is getting an impressive 26-27 mpg.
Vienna is a stately city, full of baroque buildings and wide boulevards. The Austrian capital, situated at the crossroads of Europe since Roman times, has been the home of princes and the heart of empire; a major player in the political and cultural development of modern Europe. So we decide to go to an amusement park.
The Prater is built on a small island in the Danube, and has been a public park since 1766. In one corner of the park is an area called the Wurstelprater, and, yes, it’s an amusement park with the usual assemblage of thrill rides, flashing lights, fast food, and ear-splitting trashy pop music. It also boasts uniquely Viennese baroque-style buildings and an old-school amusement park ambience that would cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars to replicate. Plus, there were a couple of rides that had MT’s hard-core Six Flags veterans shaking their heads: “No way!”
But our real reason for visiting the Wurstelprater was to see the Riesenrad, the giant ferris wheel that played a supporting role in one of our all-time favorite movies, The Third Man. Based on a screenplay by Graham Greene, and starring Orson Welles, The Third Man is an atmospheric thriller than was shot on location in Vienna exactly 60 years ago. Welles plays a black marketer who fakes his own death, only to have the ruse uncovered by an old friend.
In one of the movie’s key scenes, the two meet at the Wurstelprater, which was then in the Russian sector of Vienna — like Berlin, the city was divided among the victorious Allied Powers after the end of World War II. In the shadow of the Riesenrad Welles delivers the movie’s most famous lines, summing up the weary cynicism of a ruined Europe on the eve of the Cold War: “You know what the fellow said: In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
After shooting some photos and video, we head back to the Genesis, and start packing the camera gear back in the truck. A nearby group of Austrians watches us curiously. One of them spots the license plate. “California!” he shouts. “Arnold Schwarzenegger!” They all laugh. I don’t think they were being cynical.
-Photos by Brian Vance
ORIENT EXPRESS SERIES: Day 1 – Paris to Strasbourg — Day 2 – Strasbourg to Munich
Source : blogs.motortrend.com/6535501/miscellaneous/on-the-trail-of-the-orient-express-day-3/index.html